The members of Charleville Heritage Society will have to wait until the emergency lockdown is over at Cork County Council before any progress can be made in acquiring the top storey of the town's former Market House for the establishment of a museum for Charleville.
Negotiations had been ongoing between Cllr Ian Doyle and the executive of the Council prior to the onset of the pandemic, but then everything ceased when the emergency arrangements were imposed, and nothing will happen until the restrictions are lifted and life gets back to normal again.
The iconic building in the centre of the town, as the late historian Jim Meagher relates, was built by Charleville Corporation in 1769 to cater for the weekly marketing of agricultural produce. The potato market was where the former Commercial Club played billiards and snooker, and in the room behind the steps the milk market was located.
The hay market, an abattoir for the slaughter of cattle, sheep and pigs was there, and a butter market was held in the yard to the rear of the market house. The meat was sold in the area that was known as Shambles Lane, just off Broad Street, and, in fact, beasts were slaughtered in this area up to the early 1990's by O'Gormans' Butchers, who had their victualling business across the road in Broad Street.
The charity shop for the blind now occupies this space.
The Market Yard was located down a little further, and here there was a forge for making horse shoes and other farm implements, a wheelwright for making wooden cart wheels, a weighbridge for weighing animals, and the yard was also used by auctioneers for the annual bull sale. The Forge Restaurant run by St. Joseph's Foundation is so called as a nod to the forge that used to be located in the market yard, and contains a photograph of the last blacksmith in the yard, Paddy O'Connor, who had his forge there.
While they are awaiting a decision from Cork County Council on acquiring the space in the building, the Heritage Society is gathering artefacts and other items pertaining to the history of the town, which will be placed in the museum, when and if it becomes a reality. In the meantime, they are being safely stored in a secure location along with the Society's own story boards that trace the colourful history of the town, and the many famous people that were either born in or associated with Charleville, down through the centuries.